On Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke about the migrant crisis in the country and said that few migrants ‘lost patience’ and started walking even as the center had provided adequate facilities.
Speaking to CNN, the Union Home Minister said,
“Some people lost patience and started walking on the roads. Even then we started buses and transported them to railway stations from where they were safely taken to their villages.”
On March 25th when the center announced a nationwide lockdown because of the novel coronavirus, many migrants were left without jobs and homes. The center announces the arrangement of special trains to transport migrants only on the 1st of May. The bus services to carry migrants started on the 20th of April.
In the period of four lockdowns that left migrants with no means to reach home, over 170 migrant workers have been killed in road and train accidents. Several others have died on their way due to exhaustion. Between the 9th and 27th of May, at least 80 migrant workers and their family members have died of starvation as per the data from the Railway Protection Force.
1 crore migrant sent home
The Home Minister acknowledged the plight of the workers and said that because of the government efforts, more than crore migrant laborers have reached home. He said,
“However, it is true that some incidents happened that should not have. For 5-6 days it happened. After which we provided facilities and people started understanding it. Forty-one lakh migrant workers were sent home by buses and 55 lakh were sent home in trains.”
In the interview, Amit Shah was asked if the government’s four-hour notice before imposing the nationwide lockdown was too short and could the government have been arranged transport migrants before imposing the lockdown, he dismissed it by citing the reason of a possible stampede. He also said that the government utilized the lockdown period to strengthen the health facilities. He said,
“Health facilities were not ready by then, states were also not ready, quarantine facilities were not in place by then. We got all of this ready in two months.”
Shah also dismissed the reports about the subsidized fares of the Shramik Special Trains. He said that 85 percent of the fare has been provided by Railways and the rest 15 percent is provided by the state.